San Diego Business Journal

La Jolla Pharmaceutical entered an agreement Jan. 6 with a Bay Area biotech to co-develop and market its experimental lupus drug Riquent.

The deal, which involves a $15 million upfront payment, has a value of as much as $289 million.

Novato-based BioMarin Pharmaceutical will share a drug, currently in Phase 3 trials, that La Jolla Pharmaceutical struggled for years to bring to market.

Riquent failed twice to prove effective, most recently in 2003 after it was shown ineffective in delaying kidney inflammation. Today, Riquent is undergoing studies at 160 sites in the United States.

If approved by the FDA, the companies would jointly commercialize Riquent in the United States. BioMarin would gain rights to market the drug in Europe and regions outside Asia.

An approval would make Riquent the first drug approved by the FDA specifically for lupus in more than 45 years, the companies said.

Shares of La Jolla Pharmaceutical, traded under the symbol LJPC, nearly doubled to $1.49 in trading Jan. 6 after the deal was announced.

, Heather Chambers